A mem­o­rable ride in style and safety

Saturday Star - - METRO - KA­BELO CHA­BAL­ALA | @Ka­be­lo­jay

I CAN­NOT re­mem­ber the last time I went on a road trip. But what I do re­call, vividly, is this: I was in a hatch­back. I do think that the more hor­ri­ble your ride, the more you are go­ing to for­get about the sho’t left you have un­der­taken.

I didn’t quite en­joy the drive, be­cause I felt the car didn’t han­dle the ter­rain well. I said to my­self – the next time I tackle moun­tain­ous places, I’d bet­ter be in a bakkie or SUV. Lo and be­hold – 2018 is here, and the uni­verse does con­spire and give you what you want.

I got to drive to Graskop, Mpumalanga, in the new com­pact SUV, Ford Ecosport, 1.0 Auto Ti­ta­nium. You could think of the many cars in its seg­ment that could make you for­get about it when you go shop­ping for a com­pact SUV.

Think of the Toy­ota C-HR, Re­nault Cap­ture, the Mazda CX-3.

How­ever, driv­ing it will make you think that it is the only car worth buy­ing in this seg­ment. I also read that it ranks as one of the safest cars in its seg­ment and I can at­test to its safety on the road.

I think it’s one thing to be told that a car has seven airbags as was the case with the model I was driv­ing. It’s a dif­fer­ent story when you feel safe while you drive.

I felt safe as I was do­ing the twist­ing and turn­ing around Eh­lanzeni in the God’s Win­dow area. This ve­hi­cle had a very firm grip of the tarred road on the way to Misty Moun­tain around Sa­bie and Ly­den­burg, and the road re­quired some more zigzag­ging.

How­ever, I wasn’t par­tic­u­larly happy with the lug­gage space. If it was not a trip for two but a fam­ily with two kids (one be­ing a tod­dler), we wouldn’t have had enough space in the boot, which of­fers a max­i­mum of 334 litres.

Although there is a two-tier sys­tem where the bay floor can be raised to put other things un­der­neath, I was still not im­pressed with the space. It’s just too lit­tle.

Per­haps the next model should have a deeper boot, con­sid­er­ing that the spare wheel is not un­der­neath the boot. On the bright side, the spare wheel of this com­pact car is bolted to the tail­gate. You don’t have to kneel down to find it, and it is a full-sized wheel.

As far as lug­gage space is con­cerned, I guess this also makes sense in re­spect of the car’s target mar­ket. It is a car that Ford has made for young fam­i­lies. I sug­gest you don’t prom­ise your par­ents or friends who are as big as me (1.89m tall and just above 100kg) a road trip in the back of your Ecosport. Most likely they won’t en­joy the jour­ney at all.

But it’s a com­fort­able car when you’re be­hind the wheel.

I was happy to get 5.8 litres per 100km. Let’s get real – petrol is a luxury for peo­ple like me. The bet­ter the fuel con­sump­tion, the hap­pier we are.

The road to Graskop is full of trucks. The 1-litre turbo en­gine is an award-win­ning en­gine, and had enough power to push when there was a need to move faster. The 92kw and 170 Nm of torque de­liver.

I thank the gods of Ford who in­tro­duced us to the Ecosport in 2013. It surely feels like a car that has been part of our roads for more than five years. I may have for­got­ten the last road trip I had be­fore this one, but I’m cer­tain that even if you ask me 10 or 15 years from now about one of my most mem­o­rable road trips, I’ll re­mem­ber the time I spent with the Ecosport, in which I went fur­ther and fur­ther into the moun­tains of Mpumalanga, and en­joyed the beau­ti­ful veg­e­ta­tion of the area.

A full-size spare wheel is mounted on the rear door.

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